The federal Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), launched not long after President Obama took office in 2009, is proving to be one of the administration's more successful efforts in addressing the country's foreclosure epidemic. Nearly 3 million homeowners -- nearly a third of whom were upside down on their mortgages -- have been able to refinance under the initiative, saving, according to a Fannie Mae study this spring, an average of $328 per month.
Despite its ultimate successes, HARP got off to a rocky start and had to be overhauled in 2011 in order to open it up to a bigger pool of potential participants. For that reason, Columbia Business School real estate professor Christopher Mayer says, "when we look back on this in 10 years, it's all going to suggest we did too little, too slowly, in housing, and it was too bureaucratic. We left an enormous amount of benefit on the table."